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SK chemicals and Chinese partner to establish joint venture for waste plastic recycling

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 25, 2022, 14:36 Updated : July 25, 2022, 14:54

[Courtesy of SK chemicals]

SEOUL -- In an effort to expand the production and supply of green materials, SK chemicals and its Chinese partner, Shuye, will build a joint venture plant for waste plastic recycling. Construction is to begin in early 2023 for commercial production probably in late 2024.  

Under a memorandum of understanding, SK chemicals and Shuye will establish a joint venture and build a depolymerization plant capable of producing 100,000 tons of recycled raw materials annually and a plant that produces 200,000 tons of "chemical cycle" polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and copolyesters.

SK chemicals commercialized chemical recycle copolyesters, which form when modifications are made to polyesters. They retain their strength, clarity, and other mechanical properties even when exposed to a variety of chemicals that typically affect other materials. Copolyester resins have proved to be effective in packaging applications, due to their toughness, versatility and chemical resistance.

Chemical recycling breaks down and returns plastic to its pure, raw material form. It is an attractive way to address the explosive growth of plastic waste and disposal problems. The Chinese company provides a factory site in Shantou, a prefecture-level city on the eastern coast of Guangdong. SK Chemicals will secure management rights by holding more than 51 percent of the joint venture.

In 2021, SK chemicals secured a 10 percent stake in Shuye, a Chinese company, to establish a stable base for the production of copolyesters using chemical recycling technology. Through its investment in Shuye, SK chemicals secured an off-take capacity of 20,000 tons of raw materials and exclusive rights in South Korea.

SK chemicals, a unit of South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, has expanded its portfolio of chemical recycle products. The company considers investing in domestic facilities for the production of 50,000 tons of green materials annually in 2025. "We will expand our recycled plastic business capabilities by securing a global base," Kim Eung-soo, head of SK chemicals' co-polyester business, said in a statement on July 25. 

SK chemicals' copolyester brand materializes functional characteristics unique to copolyesters, such as transparency, appearance, and chemical resistance while using just 50 percent of raw materials broken down through chemical recycling. It can be used for cosmetic containers, blister packaging, and decorative sheets that require high functionality and transparency.

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